WORDS & PICTURES
on “GOBLIN MARKET”
by Christina Rossetti
Monday, 26th November 2012
Illustrations and writings during Victorian times- Page 2 The ambiguous relationship between pictures and words- From page 2 to page 3
How these two elements interweave in the poem “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti. From page 4 to page 15
From page 15 to page 16
Illustrations and writings during Victorian times:
Victorian times saw the business of illustrated books increase drastically. With the development of the book trade in England, the improvement of the printing technique and of the paper quality (Unknown. A Materialist Aesthetic and a Materialist Hermeneutics. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.ohioswallow.com/extras/0821414542_excerpt.pdf>), and the rise of the middle-class very keen on displaying their belongings- England gathered many crucial elements that would foster illustrated pieces of writing.
The Pre-Raphaelites were certainly to be part of this new concept, for their interest was based on the actual existing connection between “arts and literature […] and on the critical possibilities generated by pairing pictures with poetry [...]” (Unknown. A Materialist Aesthetic and a Materialist Hermeneutics. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. http://www.ohioswallow.com/extras/0821414542_excerpt.pdf). These same ideas influenced a lot Christina Rossetti whose own brother belonged to this aesthetic circle. No wonder then why she seems to have been influenced so much by these latter. Indeed, it is acknowledged that she “thought to combine picture and word not only to enhance the beauty (and hence desirability) of her work but also to extend its meanings by introducing a non-linguistic form and a hermeneutic framework”.
Not only was she concerned with linking her work with paintings, thus connecting both visual and verbal arts; but she also includes religious elements. Indeed being an active member of the Christian Church might explain why she uses so many elements belonging to the sacred, as one will see in our analysis.
The ambiguous relationship between pictures and words:
However odd it might seem, the bond existing between the picture and the text is an ambiguous one. Indeed, they both intend at the main thing: To grasp the inexpressible, besides, they both use devices in order to appeal to the readers' imagination, sensitivity, and intellectual interest. On the one hand, the writer usse its pen, and on the other the painter, his pencils and they let their own imagination flows to create their work of arts. Thus we understand that even if in the poems the signified might be less evident that in a picture (especially from the Victorian times), it is as present as in a painting and in a certain way the reader have to reconstruct the object through his own sensitiveness and perception— so do those who observe a painting, for, as Locke acknowledged: An image is nothing else but “a reproduction in the mind of a sensation produced by a physical perception”.
Therefore, this analysis will seek to interweave both her poem entitled “Goblin Market” and Pre-Raphaelite illustrations (made by some of her contemporaries) as well as more modern images, in order to understand, first, the complex link that exist between the picture and the text and, secondly, to understand how the audience through time have been interpreting the poem and have built their own conceptions.
How these two elements interweave in the poem “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti:
Right from the beginning of the poem, we are presented two girls but not in a normal way, the poem starts in medias res. Indeed, we don’t know their names or their actual status; the only element that one might grasp is that these two young girls can both hear the song. On the opposite, the reader gets to understand very...
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